Yanar Mohammed

President,
Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq

Yanar Mohammed was born in the city of Baghdad in 1960. Mohammed lived under Sadam’s Baath dictatorship, witnessed two wars and many years under the economic sanctions. Mohammed graduated from the school of architecture in Baghdad University in 1984, and received a master’s degree in 1993. She left Iraq for Lebanon then went on to Canada, where she was able to practice architecture. Mohammed started an Iraqi women’s group in Toronto of Iraqi Women’s Rights (DIWR) advocating universal rights for women of Iraq. Mohammed co-founded Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) in Baghdad in2003, after the war on Iraq. The main focus was mass organizing of women, challenging Islamist and nationalist patriarchs, raising demands of equality, secularism, and ending violence against women.

Mohammed published Al Mousawat (equality) newspaper, the first women’s newspaper after the outbreak of war on Iraq. Mohammed supervised the opening of two shelters for women in Baghdad and in Kirkuk. The mandate was to save women threatened by honor killings and domestic abuse, but later developed to shelter women escaping sectarian reprisal and young women escaping trafficking. They were the first shelters for women in central and south of Iraq. Mohammed received the Eleanor Roosevelt’s Global Rights Awards in. She also received V-day award for her efforts to empower women of Iraq . She was short-listed for the 1325 award given by the Netherlands government to women in conflict zones, where only 7 women activists were short-listed from a list of 30 nominees worldwide. Her efforts towards gaining the Dutch MDG3 Fund award gave way to the empowerment of OWFI work and to set up a radio. In 2009 Y Mohammed launched Al Mousawat Radio (103.8FM) in Baghdad which was run by OWFI and in collaboration with workers and secular youth groups. Al Mousawat Radio promotes a secular human rights culture with no compromises to local misogynists and religious fundamentalists.
Tags: 2016 GPF